Claudia Jones (Camden)
Claudia Jones (Camden)

Claudia Jones was born Claude Vera Cumberbatch in Trinidad and Tobago on 21 February 1915. She was one of four girls born to Charles and Sybil Cumberbatch, who moved to the US in 1922 to seek a better life. Joining her parents in New York at age 8 in 1924, for the next 31 years, Ms Jones became acutely aware of the racism that would shape her life.

In 1936, aged 21, Claudia Cumberbatch joined the American Communist Party and was rising through the ranks. By 1945, she had taken the surname Jones and was one of the prominent editors of the communist newspaper The Daily Worker. Soon, her burgeoning reputation as an essayist was being consolidated as a political strategist. However, her fame and influence brought with it surveillance by the FBI. Within 10 years, she would be deemed a threat to national security and deported from the US. It was 1955, and her country of birth had been advised not to let her return, which meant Claudia Jones would move to London. However, with the first of the Windrush generation arriving only seven years prior, Trinidad’s loss would be Britain’s gain.
Claudia Jones worked tirelessly to support Caribbean communities in London, setting up Britain’s first Black newspaper, The West Indian Gazette, organised anti-racism campaigns and organised Britain’s first Caribbean Carnival in Camden, which she held indoors annually from 1959 to 1964. Claudia Jones died suddenly aged 49 on Christmas Eve, 1964, and was laid to rest in Highgate Cemetery in Camden.
In 2023, Camden Council partnered with the Nubian Jak Community Trust to install a blue heritage plaque at the previous home of pioneering human rights campaigner and activist Claudia Jones.
The plaque was unveiled alongside community members on 18 December 2023 at 58 Lisburne Road in Camden, where Jones lived for the last two years of her life.
“Camden’s diverse communities is what makes the borough the special and strong place it is. That’s why we want to commemorate pioneering individuals from communities that have historically been underrepresented to ensure our public spaces reflect and celebrate the diversity of our communities and to continue building on our community strength. It was an honour to join community members and the Nubian Jak Community Trust to celebrate the immense contributions and influence Claudia Jones had on communities across Camden and London.” Councillor Nadia Shah, Cabinet Member for Voluntary Sector, Equalities and Cohesion
“Camden has a rich history of social and political activism by people with African and Caribbean heritage and we want to do more to shine a light on these individuals. Claudia Jones left a lasting legacy here in Camden and is known as one of the most influential Black leaders of post war Britain, so it’s fantastic to be celebrating her life and recognising her significant work in civil rights and social justice, which will also hopefully give residents and visitors the opportunity to learn more about her life and legacy.” Councillor Sabrina Francis, Cabinet Member for Young People and Culture
 “Claudia was a woman of the global south, expelled from the west, who re-established her activism in the north, and proved she was on the tight right side of history when she was laid to rest left of Karl Marx.” Dr Jak Beula, NJCT
“In one of our conferences on Claudia Jones, I asserted that Claudia Jones is one of the greatest British African activists ever. Which is why I’m glad that BTWSC/African Histories Revisited’s has supported Nubian Jak blue plaque dedicated to Jones." Kwaku, Project lead of BTWSC/African Histories Revisited